The Key To Selling More is in Understanding the Decision to Buy

Your decision to buy is emotional almost every. single. time.  Whether it's a product or service or charitable donation.  It doesn't matter.  The emotions that govern our decision-making largely happen at an unconscious level.  But sometimes those emotions come near enough to the surface for us to glimpse their ever-present influence.

The moment you tried on those leopard-print kitten heels and felt sexy and powerful.  Like you just stepped out of a magazine - emotions baby.  Telling you to buy those shoes so you can feel like that every day.

Or when you try on a new suit that fits perfectly and as you look in the mirror for a moment imagine yourself taking charge at a board meeting.  Confident in front of clients.  Emotions - telling you a story that convinces you to buy.

It's only after our emotions have made the decision to buy that our rational brains wake up and look to justify the purchase.  Is it on sale?  What are the features?  How does it benefit me?  Do I really need this?  I mean really?  (hint: if it's the shoes the answer is always yes).

Science and research have proven time and again no matter how much we like to think of ourselves as calculating, objective consumers - we're not.  fMRI scans show people evaluate brands based primarily on personal feelings and experiences rather than facts, brand attributes and features.  Other studies have shown positive feelings towards a brand do more to influence customer loyalty than trust or judgements based on features or attributes.1  One more reason to underscore the importance of creating an incredible experience for your customer and making sure you leave them with a positive feeling.

It's popular among copywriters to hear talk of triggering the 7 deadly sins of emotion.  Fear, greed, anger, vanity, pride, lust, laziness and...well gluttony not so much in my experience but you get the idea.  While I agree, these are very powerful emotions and definitely have their place in copywriting I also think it's incredibly limiting if you focus exclusively on them.  The Advertising Research Foundation discovered the emotion "likeability" actually best predicted whether an advertisement increased a brand's sales.

So let's not forget that it can be just as powerful to trigger a positive emotional response.  A "Yes! They totally get me!" could be exactly what you're looking for.  And it could be precisely the thing needed to boost your bottom line.

Why are emotions crucial to our decision-making process?

Because it's our emotions that catapult us into action.  From the evolutionary hard-wired flight or fight response, we have to fear to the more subtle flush of red cheeks and desire to crawl under the nearest table when we commit an embarrassing social faux pas.  Or when you fall down the stairs of the university's largest lecture hall 1st year and land next to a cute guy (in a skirt no less) - true story.  It was definitely emotion that moved my aching butt up off the staircase and out of the lecture hall lickety-split.

So how do you create emotion in your brand?

Well, start by hiring a copywriter who knows how to write emotionally compelling copy, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

But really...a brand is nothing more than a mental picture of your company in someone's mind.  That mental picture can only come alive with an emotional context.

Your brand needs a personality (I'm actually busily writing a book to help you with this right now).  Research has demonstrated that customers think about brands as having the same kind of personality characteristics as people do.  So strong and rugged or innocent and pure or creative and playful are all characteristics that could be applied to either brands or people.

And just like you're more attracted to certain personality types than others you're naturally more attracted to certain brands than others.  And of course, these attractions are all emotion based.  As marketers, this is great news because you're not trying to attract everyone.  The only trick is figuring out the right personality for your brand so you'll attract customers who'll fall in love with you.

Brand personality is communicated in everything you do.  Design, packaging, images, logo, tagline, colour scheme and of course, every single word across every single piece of communication...aka the copy.

That's why the story you tell or your brand narrative is so so important when it comes to attracting the right kind of client and establishing the emotional connections that will resonate with your customers.

Next week I'll talk more about the story you should be telling.

1 How Emotions Influence What We Buy - the emotional core of decision-making by Peter Noel Murray PhD. in Psychology Today